“TAKE A MOMENT to look around. Where is the good in this moment? Look inside and out. What’s the good within you, what’s the good outside of you?
The gifts of life are truly here; we just need to come to our senses from time to time to notice them.”
The fact is our brains aren’t wired to be happy; they’re wired to keep us safe. That’s why left to its own devices the brain isn’t going to be aware of all the good that is around.
There are many writers, psychologists and mindfulness teachers who speak about the essence of our true nature being good, being happy, and being compassionate.
However, this only comes when we feel safe and secure.
Our brain is often times not in a state of feeling safe and secure and is more often on the lookout for what’s a potential danger around us. This is what’s been called the brain’s automatic negativity bias. In other words, we’re far more likely to pay attention to what’s not good than to what’s good. This is especially prevalent if you’ve ever struggled with anxiety, depression or any trauma.
But there’s good news:
The good news is that we also know what we practice and repeat in life starts to become automatic. In neuroscience lingo, that is the basis behind neuroplasticity – the ability to wire our brains with our attention and behaviors.
This can be a very simple practice as suggested above to just pause from time to time and ask yourself, “What is good right now?” or perhaps you can even ask yourself, “What do I love?”
At times the answers may come easy and at other times you may yourself reaching for something that’s good. There may be even times when you notice resistance to this practice, judgments around it or a sense of vulnerability arising in combination with the answers.
This is your brain’s way of guarding against vulnerability. In other words, if you feel good you’re at risk for a greater let down if something bad happens. Researcher Brene Brown calls this “Foreboding Joy” and it’s more common than we think. When you notice this resistance, remind yourself it’s okay to be aware of the good and see if you can refocus on it for a moment.
For the good of your brain and your life, give this simple practice a shot. Treat it like an experiment and see what you notice. Allow your experience to be your teacher.
As always, please share your thoughts, stories and questions below. Your interaction creates a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.
Woman walking in the woods image available from Shutterstock.
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Last reviewed: 3 Jul 2013